To Be or To Be Something Else

This post is not really about photography.

Well, not only.

I want to take wonderful freeze-frame photos of birds in flight.  You know the kind of thing, I’m sure.  I mean, how hard can it be?

Well, pretty hard.  Those pesky things are far away and/or moving fast.   Or both, dagnab it.  And so I have a large and growing category: fuzzy birds in flight.

Six fuzzy photos of birds in flight.

So I figured I’d work out the evident kinks in my technique by practicing on water birds with their wings flared.  At least there I should be able to get stunning photos: beautiful birds, great light, lovely angles, no distracting background.  You know the kind of thing, I’m sure.  I mean, how hard can it be?  Well, pretty hard.

Sometimes the birds are just too far away.

Two photos of birds too far away.

Sometimes the flare happens too fast for me to get anything into focus.

Sometimes I get the bird’s body in focus but the wings are a non-artistic blur, moving faster than my selected shutter speed (or the fastest speed possible given the amount of light – it isn’t always about me).

And sometimes the focus is OK but the wings are caught in a sub-optimal position.  Booooring.

Six fuzzy photos of birds with flared wings

So when I get decent results, even with a common bird in an artificial pond, I’m thrilled.

Male mallard with flared wings

Male mallard with flared wings

I’m also puzzled.

Have I let my standards slide inappropriately, accepting an average result just because it’s hard to get the stunning result?  You know, being lazy?

Am I being realistic about what I can achieve, given how hard this challenge is?  You know, being sensible?

Or am I gradually preparing myself to face tougher challenges: honing my craft, as it were?  You know, being ambitious?

No, this post is not really about photography.

Well, not only.

 

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8 Comments

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Tom – Yes, I guess that’s right – whether I’m being lazy, sensible or ambitious depends both on how I feel about it on a given day, and what the actual situation is!

  1. Jim Taylor

    One solution, of course, is to set your camera to take multiple, sequential, exposures. That way one of them is bound to get the right moment, isn’t it?
    But this is not really about photograph, as you noted. It might be about memory, which has a wonderful hindsight feature. It takes the full analog sequence, and convinces itself that it actually did see the perfect frame somewhere in that sine curve (autocorrect tried to turn “curve” into “curse”!). But it’s only afterwards that we can conclude we must have seen it, done it, heard it, whatever….
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – Well, some of these bad shots were captured using that sequential-shot feature, so it seems there are no guarantees (although it does improve my odds . . .). (And if there were a guarantee, what would be the point?)

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